Drifting Home (Ame wo Tsugeru Hyôryû Danchi/雨を告げる漂流団地) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A fascinating look back to the power that a home can have over us, more than just four walls and a roof.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

The clouds over an ocean.

Drifting Home Review

At the end of last year, I realised that I had not watched enough animated films in 2021 and that needed to change in 2022. I think I succeeded on that front, but when I looked back, I realised that there was one hole in that catchup, Anime. Today I start fixing that blind spot by diving into a film full of mystery.    

 So to set the scene, in town in Japan at the onset of summer, there is an apparently haunted apartment block about to be torn down. While the old building is being removed to put something better, it is still considered ‘home’ for Natsume Touchi (Asami Seto) and Kosuke Kumagai (Mutsumi Tamura), who grew up there. However, since they moved out, the two have drifted apart as they went through separate lives. One day before they tear down the buildings, Kosuke and a group of boys visit one of the buildings and find Natsume hiding in their old apartment. As more school students show up, a concern about a mysterious boy called Noppo (Ayumu Murase), whom no one has met before but who lives in the building, raises the tension. It is all the building blocks for an argument between Natsume and Kosuke that had been percolating for months. As the two fight, Natsume slips off the roof, but before she hits the ground, a storm envelops the apartments, and the group finds themselves in the middle of the ocean, all alone.

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Lightyear – Movie Review

TL;DR – While a solid entry, it did feel like the narrative push to the end didn’t land    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid, an end credit scene, and a post-end credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film.

Buzz looks into the reflection on his helmet.

Lightyear Review

I have made no secret over the years just how much I love the Toy Story movies. Toy Story 3 comes in at number 3 in my all-time favourite animated films, and I even thought Toy Story 4 worked in the context of being an epilogue for the series. But the question is, Can they turn Toy Story from a series of excellent films into a bonified franchise? Well, with today’s film, we are about to find out.

So to set the scene, in 1995, Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday, but this is the film’s story that inspired the toy. This means in uncharted space 4.2 million lightyears from Earth, The Star Command SC-01 exploration vessel with a crew of 1200 is looking for uncharted planets to … well, to chart. Captain Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) diverts the vessel’s course after finding a new world, and when they land, the rangers start to explore the planet. When they get attacked by vines and bugs, they must evacuate before the ship is destroyed. But Buzz needs to save the rookie (Bill Hader) from death as Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) reboots the ship, and while they almost escape, they crash the ship and have to make an emergency landing. When testing a new propulsion device to escape the planet and go home, Buzz jumps four years into the future, feeling guilty for stranding everyone, he keeps making jumps until one day he comes back, and the colony is occupied by Zyclops robots led by Zurg (James Brolin).

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The Sea Beast – Movie Review

TL;DR – You will probably see the shape of this film for the first couple of minutes, but that does not take away how delightful the time is as we go diving through a world of monsters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this movie.

Red stares down the crew.

The Sea Beast Review

I think animation, especially animation focused on younger audiences, gets a bad rap. Sure, there is a lot of nonsense out there made to fill time, but that does not mean that an animated film directed toward children will be inherently bad. There are films where you can see the artistry and craft that have gone into every moment. Well, today we look at just such a film with the nautical adventure The Sea Best.  

So to set the scene, for over a hundred years, there has been a war across the seas of this world. Great sea beasts stalked the oceans taking ships to a watery grave, even swiping people from the coastline as they were tending their gardens. To fight this menace, the royalty of Three Bridges hired great hunters to take the fight to monsters and keep the waters safe. The Hunters live by a clear code that all must follow, even those on the most famous hunting ship, The Inevitable. Under their Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and his forebears, they have kept the seas clear, with only the great red beast alluding them. Well, the King (Jim Carter) and Queen (Doon Mackichan) have become tired of paying Hunters to kill the beasts, so they make their own ship, The Imperator, to do the work for them. Seeing their future fall apart, Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) makes a deal with the royals, a race, and if The Inevitable gets the sea beast before The Imperator, well then, they keep working with the Hunters.     

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Minions: The Rise of Gru – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it might not hit as hard as its predecessors, it was still a joy to be back in this world.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Gru and the Minions in the one bed.

Minions: The Rise of Gru Review

This may be due to my never having children, much to my mother’s chagrin, but I have always liked the Despicable Me films. Gru (Steve Carell) discovering who he is through the prism of his daughter’s love and then becoming a better person for it. Well, that is some compelling stuff. Heck, I even like those quirky little minions always up to mischief. I think I was the only one who laughed at their cameo in Mortal Engines. I am sure that would have changed if I had been subjected to them time after time. But coming in here, I thought that Despicable Me 3 might have started to show the limits of this story, and I wondered could a prequel help?

So to set the scene, it is 1976, and a very different set of villains torment the globe, which the film wastes no time showing as we see Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) race through town, evading the authorities at every turn. In the lair of The Vicious 6, she reveals to their leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) a map to an ancient stone pendent of power. Well, one trip to Asia later, one betrayal, and one Bond-inspired title sequence later, there is now a free spot open in The Vicious 6, and a young Gru wants in.

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The Bob’s Burgers Movie – Movie Review

TL;DR – This was so full of charm and joy that I had a smile on my face for the entire runtime, well, when I was not laughing, that is.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Bob pats a burger

The Bob’s Burgers Movie Review

When I walked in to see The Bob’s Burgers Movie, I had two main concerns, one personal and the other professional. The personal being that I had kind of fallen out with Bob’s Burgers. During the Covid pandemic, when they finally released it easily here in Australia on Disney+, I binged that series hard, which might not have been for the best. Professionally, I had to wonder, could it make a show that was deserving of a feature-length runtime. The last show to do this on a similar scale was Simpsons, and even Family Guy fell back on that Star Wars riff when doing something similar. However, as I walked out of the cinema, I was glad to say that neither of these concerns was an issue because the film was a blast.  

So to set the scene, it is 6-years beforehand, and one night, in the dark night, there is a scuffle, and then a bang as someone is murdered. Flash forward to the present day, and there is a feeling of nervous cheer in the Belcher family. Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) are going down to the bank to ask for an extension on their loan payment, and Bob is making a special burger to help seal the deal. However, as the kids Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal) go to school, Louise is called a baby because she still wears bunny ears. Well, Bob didn’t get the loan, and worse, a pit hole opens up in front of the restaurant, but in that hole could be the Belcher’s salvation or their doom.    

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that hits pretty much the same as the first, but I am not sure the first film was good enough to rest on your laurels    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Knuckles walks through a coin portal

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was one of those moments where you could tell that there was a good movie and idea out there, but that it had been so cluttered that it was hard to find. To let a spoiler out of the bag, I do think the sequel improves in some areas. However, on the whole, what we get here is more of the same than any actual development.

So to set the scene, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has been living with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) for a while now, but secretly at night, he goes out to Seattle to try and fight crime. Tom is concerned that he is not mature enough for that, but as a test of faith, he leaves Sonic home alone while they go to Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) to her new beau Randall (Shemar Moore). It is all going fine, but for the fact that on the Mushroom Planet, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) found a way to send a pulse into space, which summoned the Echidna with the fists and a feud with Sonic, Knuckles (Idris Elba) to the planet.

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The Bad Guys – Movie Review

TL;DR –  While it is not doing anything ground-breaking, strong animation and voice casting means that this was a blast from start to finish.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

The Bad Guys. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The Bad Guys Review

If there is one genre of film that I typically enjoy, it is a good heist film. I love the setup, the planning, the twists, the betrayals, and the score at the end. I don’t mind if you are going for a hard heist film or a more loosey-goosey affair. So, I like my Ocean’s 11 and my Ocean’s 13. Well, when I was invited to a screening of a new animated heist film based on a beloved children’s book, I had a feeling I was going to have a good time, and I was right.

So to set the scene, we open with a heist in progress as Mr Wolf (Sam Rockwell) introduces us to himself, and as the car chase continues, the rest of the crew. We have Mr Snake (Marc Maron), a safecracker. Mr Piranha (Anthony Ramos), the muscle. Mr Shark (Craig Robinson), a master of disguise, and Ms Tarantula (Awkwafina), the tech wizard. As they celebrate Mr Snake’s birthday, they wonder what their next heist could be? Maybe the Golden Dolphin, the most un-stealable treasure in the city.

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Turning Red – Movie Review

TL;DR – A true delight of a film on an animation and narrative level.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Turning Red. Image Credit: Disney+.

Turning Red Review

When it comes to depicting stories outside of its cultural expertise, the Disney Corporation has had a mixed track record. Even when trying to do something in good faith, they stumble. But they took their time making sure Moana worked, and then Bao showed they could nail a complicated narrative if they supported creatives with their vision. When I heard the writer/director of Bao is making a feature film, well, I had to check that out.

So to set the scene, Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old girl living in 2002 Toronto, Canada. She has become an adult, at least that is what she thinks, and has started making her mark in the world. Mei has three friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park), and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and together they make a core group trying to survive high school and live with joy with their mutual love of 4*Town. Mei works with her mother Ming (Sandra Oh) at their family’s temple that venerates their ancestors, including Sun Yee, who was famously friends with animals, including red pandas, which is quite a coincidence when Mei wakes up one morning to find herself turned into a giant red panda.   

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The Films from 2021 That Showed Off the Wonderful Glory of Animation

Animation is a form of filmmaking that is often related to second-tier status, something just for kids. This is by both the organisations giving out the awards and the guilds that are meant to promote their member’s work. However, they are not second-tier films, and in many ways, it is the animated films that push the frontiers of filmmaking and what is possible, and they should be championed for the work they do.     

Animated films can be hand-drawn, stop/clay motion, computer-generated, it does not matter, but all of them show unique techniques of hundreds of artists that bring the work to life.

So without further ado, these are the animated films that showed us the glory of animation in 2021. Be warned that there may be slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners/titles to go to the full reviews of each of the films 

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Luca – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A film that is a pure delight from start to finish.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Luca. Image Credit: Disney.

Luca Review

We have a longing for those moments in our childhood when everything seemed to come together. I think this is an almost universal drive in people, the place and location might be different, but that drive is still the same. Today we look at a film that captures this drive and crafts it into a narrative that will delight.

So to set the scene, once evening off the coast of the Italian Riviera, two fishermen decide to fish close to Isola del Mare even though the reputation that monsters surround it, which was sort of true because around the island live a village of sea people. Among the sea people/monsters is Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), who lives with his family herding goatfish. However, one day in the fields, a human approached collecting the flotsam on the bottom of the ocean. Luca runs but soon finds that this is not a human but another sea person called Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer). Alberto lives on the surface in a tower because once a sea person leaves the water, they can turn into a human when they dry out. 

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